If you’re headed to Ella, Sri Lanka, you’re likely interested in hiking, walking, and all manner of other calorie-burning, thigh-sculpting activities. And that means you’re bound to get hungry. Multiple breakfasts and a big dinner kind of hungry. At least we did.
Well, you’re in luck. Ella, Sri Lanka, has plenty of restaurants to satiate even the most voracious appetite. I should know. My family and friends have dubbed my appetite “The Beast.”
We stayed in Ella for eight days, and we spent a good portion of that time eating. Because after getting hopelessly lost on the way to Ella Rock, we figured we’d earned at least one full week of uninhibited gluttony.
We ended up trying nearly every restaurant in the town. Some of them multiple times. So if you’re wondering where to eat in Ella, Sri Lanka, we’ve got you covered.
Whether you’ve got a mad hankering for some khottu or are desperate for something more familiar—because, let’s face it, even the most “authentic” travelers sometimes need a juicy cheeseburger—here is our guide to the restaurants in Ella, Sri Lanka.
Quick Guidelines for Eating in Sri Lanka
Before jumping into all the delicious things to eat in Ella, Sri Lanka, I wanted to offer a few quick guidelines for eating in Sri Lanka.
Disclaimer: These guidelines are not a knock against Sri Lanka, but rather some health and safety tips we employ when traveling in many countries around the world.
- Don’t drink the water. In order to avoid sickness, travelers should avoid drinking the water in Sri Lanka. Be sure to ask for bottled water—which is super cheap—and for no ice in your drinks (although some upscale restaurants use ice made from treated water that is safe to drink).
- Don’t eat uncooked fruits or vegetables. Travelers should also avoid eating any raw vegetables or fruit, as they are often washed in local water and might carry bacteria that could cause sickness. Fruit that is peeled, such as bananas, is typically safe.
- Health standards are sometimes laxer. I was concerned by some of the practices I saw in several Sri Lankan restaurants. At one restaurant, a stray dog from the street wandered inside and back into the kitchen where our food was being prepared. On another occasion, I saw a server drop a fork on the floor, brush it off, and give it to a customer. Please know that I am not mentioning these incidences for the sake of being insulting or critical. But we strongly believe that using discernment when choosing places to eat when traveling is important. We’d rather take home a postcard than a parasite.
- Service can be slow. If you eat out in Sri Lanka, give yourself plenty of time. Because food is often prepared fresh to order, you might have to wait longer than you’d expect, especially when ordering rice and curry (and you should definitely order rice and curry).
- Carry hand sanitizer. My biggest packing regret for our trip to Sri Lanka was not taking hand sanitizer. Sri Lankans eat primarily with their hands—though we were usually given forks as foreigners—so properly cleaning your hands before a meal is an essential part of staying safe and healthy.
Sam and I followed these guidelines during our month in Sri Lanka and neither of us experienced any ill effects from the food, other than perhaps packing on an additional pound or two of unwanted weight!
Where to Eat in Ella, Sri Lanka
Now that we’ve gotten that part out of the way, let’s jump straight into our guide to the best restaurants in Ella, Sri Lanka.
Note: Most of these restaurants are located along the main road and fairly close to each other. I have included addresses whenever possible, but you’d likely have better luck finding them by asking a local or simply meandering the main strip.
For an authentic local experience, check out Impala Hotel. Unlike many of the other restaurants in Ella that cater primarily to Western backpackers (since Ella is a major tourist hotspot), the Impala Hotel was popular with Sri Lankans. We were typically the only Westerners present.
And to be completely honest, I’m not sure I would have given it a try if I’d simply passed it on the street. But when our hotel couldn’t process our breakfast order one morning, Sam went into town in search of food and came back with the best chocolate banana roti I’d ever tasted—and I’d tasted quite a few by that point.
After that, the Impala Hotel became our go-to on days when our hotel didn’t serve breakfast.
Ella Village Restaurant
If, for some explicable reason, you want a breakfast that doesn’t consist of chocolate banana roti, Ella Village Restaurant is the place for you. We had a delicious (and affordable) meal of roti, sambol, eggs, and fruit. And, of course, buckets of tea. We were in Sri Lanka after all.
A23, Ella, Sri Lanka
Whether you’re craving some authentic local cuisine or need a taste from home, 360 Ella is a decent option. It serves both local and Western dishes, so you’re certain to find something that strikes your fancy.
Sam and I tried the pizza and the chicken khottu. Neither blew our minds, but they were both good, and the atmosphere in the restaurant was great. If you visit in the evening, you might even get to enjoy some live music.
10, Main Street, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
The Different Corner
Head to The Different Corner for some cheap local food. After our disastrous hike up Ella Rock, we had worked up a pretty violent appetite. The cheap lunch rice and curry plates at The Different Corner hit the spot.
Wellawaya Road, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
Fish & Chips Restaurant
Ironically, we never actually ordered fish and chips at Fish & Chips Restaurant. I don’t even like seafood. But we made FREQUENT visits for the takeaway chicken khottu, which was the best we had on our entire trip. As with many other restaurants in Sri Lanka, the Fish & Chips Restaurant has a little takeaway window by the street where you can order without having to go inside. So it’s basically like a Sri Lankan drive-thru. And it’s fantastic.
We ended up picking up khottu to go from here at least four times during our stay in Ella.
Main Road, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
On the other end of the spectrum, Café Chill is a traveler hotspot. The three-story, open-air restaurant certainly has the cool factor. With beanbag chairs and a Western menu offering a variety of smoothies and drinks, it’s no wonder the restaurant attracts every backpacker within a 100-mile radius.
After several weeks of eating mostly khottu and chicken fried rice, I was dying for a big juicy burger. And the burger at Café Chill certainly delivered. It even contained meat, unlike the “burger” we’d gotten in Nuwara Eliya.
The only thing we didn’t like about Café Chill was that smoking is permitted and not separated from a non-smoking section.
A23, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
One of our favorite places to eat in Ella, In Reincarnation is a three-story restaurant along the main drag that serves some delicious Western-style food (as well as some local dishes). Sam and I both loved the Mediterranean wrap and returned multiple times during our trip.
No 41 Bandarawela Rd | Rainbow inn, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
Though Café Guru is located further away, it is worth the trek. The atmosphere is great, and the food was tasty. The pizza we ordered—which was big enough to split—was the best of our trip. We only wish we’d discovered it sooner so we could have gone back.
Madusha Warnasooriya 11 Wellawaya Road,, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
Dream Café is another popular restaurant serving Western-style dishes. We ordered the pizza, which was decent but not nearly as good as the pizza at Café Guru. Coffee and a variety of tasty-looking desserts round out the menu.
Main Street | Ella,Uva Province, Sri Lanka, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
Coffee, Tea, and Dessert
One of the biggest challenges for Sam during our time in Sri Lanka was being an avid coffee enthusiast in a nation of tea drinkers. When he could find coffee, it was often sub-par and wildly overpriced.
But he was impressed with the coffee at Barista Ella (which is located right beside the Curd Shop). And though I can’t stand the taste of coffee—good or bad—I was a fan of the desserts. We returned several times for a sweet treat after a long morning of hiking.
No. 01 Curd Shop, Ella Junction, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
Located a decent walk out of town (in the direction of Little Adam’s Peak), Little Folly was our favorite place to visit for afternoon tea and cake. Each day, the owner baked fresh lemon and chocolate cake, and they were both so good. We actually made a point of visiting every single afternoon around three for a sweet pick-me-up and several cups of delicious Sri Lankan tea. It was always worth the walk.
Passara Road, Ella 90090, Sri Lanka
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